Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whale of a tale

A long time ago, Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh. The Lord said, "Jonah, I need you to go to Nineveh and tell them that they're screwing up and if they don't change, I'll smite them."
"But Lord, they're mean and nasty and smelly and dirty and I don't wanna go to Nineveh. Send someone else!"
"I don't want someone else, I want you. Go."
"No. I'm going to go somewhere else. Anywhere else."
"Jonah, see this whale? Let's find out how you like seeing the inside of this whale."
Three days later: "Fine. I'll go to Nineveh. But I'm not going to like it. I'm going to complain about it the rest of my life!"

Even though there aren't currently great big fish involved, I don't want to go to Nineveh.

There's a place I'm comfortable, where I know the people and what is expected of me. I like what I'm doing, who I'm doing it with, my friends and family. My life may not be the best, but I know what it is and I have a plan for where it is going. Things are on track, there is a goal.

And from the quiet shadows, something will present itself. God whispers our names, quietly calling us to serve Him as I pledge/d to do. I'll ignore it, for a time, because I don't want to move, because I am safe and comfortable. Maybe if I ignore the call, it will go away and I won't have to do anything. Maybe the next call will come at a more convenient time, or when I'm ready to move on, or when I have money or time or support.

Eventually, if I don't accede gracefully to what I know I am supposed to be doing, I will get smacked upside the head with a metaphorical clue-bat, because while He has infinite patience and time, I don't, nor does the need I'm supposed to be working with. (Hopefully, God won't need to graduate to Whale to get my attention.)

It's cold outside, and there are people who aren't like me, who want things from me. Why can't I stay here? I have limited resources, can't I use them somewhere else? There's a need here that I could work on instead and it wouldn't require stretching very far.

God requires many things from us, including growth and trust and doing what He asks. Those aren't fun a lot of the time. I don't like walking out of my safe space, but I am reminded that I am not walking alone. There are others also on the journey...and even if it seems like I'm the only one in the world being asked to do this very hard thing, being a Christian means that I'm not really alone, that I can reach out my hand and be met by God. I'm not doing this by myself.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death,
I will fear no evil
For thou art with me,
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

It is far better to go along with what God calls us to do, joyfully and with thanksgiving. Jonah dies an angry and bitter man, still upset about having to go to Nineveh, and that his project for God succeeded, the city he hates so much is still standing. But I certainly understand the impulse to cry out, complain, to walk every direction away from that call. To be stubborn in the face of what is right, because it's not what is comfortable, it's not what I want to be doing.

I still don't want to go to Nineveh, damn it.

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